Forest personnel undergo training in identifying and rescuing snakes

For long considered a rare occurrence, particularly in the upper parts of The Nilgiris man-snake encounters have of late become frequent in this hilly district, according to N.Sadiq Ali, founder-trustee of the Wildlife and Nature Conservation Trust and an expert in handling snakes.

Speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of a training programme for forest personnel on identifying and rescuing snakes at Cairn Hill here on Saturday, he said that until about five years ago man-snake encounters in human habitations of The Nilgiris were only about three or four a year. However, now there was a call almost every other day from different parts of the district, including the colder areas where hitherto it was thought that snakes cannot survive.

The District Forest Officer, The Nilgiris North, B. Sugirtharaj Koilpillai, said that most of the venomous snakes which had been caught over the past few years had come up in trucks transporting construction and other materials.

Underscoring the importance of such training programmes, the District Forest Officer, The Nilgiris South, M. Badhrasamy, said that periodical skill development exercises would do a world of good to the forest staff and also strengthen conservation efforts.

Pointing out that about 100 forest personnel had benefited from the programme which included the screening of a documentary and a power point presentation on snakes, an anti-poaching watcher K. Subramani said: “I am now less scared of snakes”.

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